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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Get More Time for YOU

Seven optimum habits that will return several hours to your day

#1 Stop multi-tasking. It has been proven that multi-tasking significantly reduces brain power and focus. It takes your brain 4x longer to recognize and process each thing you are working on when you switch back and forth.  

#2 Don’t check email the first 96 minutes at work. I know this is going to be a hard one. Email is seductive because we think there might be something more interesting waiting for us there. Resist the temptation and focus your first hour working on your most critical task. Why 96 minutes? You’ve probably heard of the Pareto principle (also known as the 80–20 rule). This principle says that 20 percent of your activities will account for 80% of your results. 20 percent of your customers will account for 80 percent of your sales, 20 percent of your products or services will account for 80 percent of your profits, 20 percent of your tasks will account for 80 percent of the value of what you do, and so on. 20% of 8 hours is 96 minutes. Instead of wasting your day attempting to work on your critical task but never accomplishing that due to interruptions, give yourself the first 96 minutes of each day to accomplish what you need to. That accomplishment will energize you and give you more focus throughout your day. Try it for 3 days and see if you don’t see a marked difference in your productivity.

#3 Have a master list, but schedule everything.  Have you ever wondered why you never get everything done on your to-do list?  It’s very simple, you need to DECIDE when you are going to do each task and schedule each into your calendar just as you do an appointment or a meeting. 

#4 Prioritize your tasks. You might be struggling with deciding which task to do first, second, third.  A simple answer is, "Is the task an ABCD or E task?"
A is defined as something that is very important that you must do because it will have serious positive or negative consequences if you do it or fail to do it.  You may have more than one A task and you can prioritize those by A1, A2, and A3.
B is a task that you should do but only has mild consequences such as returning an unimportant phone call or reviewing your email.
C is a task defined as something that would be nice to do but there are no consequences such as having lunch with a coworker.
D is a task that you can delegate. The rule is delegate everything that someone else can do so that you can free up more time for the A tasks that only you can do.
E is a task that you can eliminate all together and it won’t make any difference if you do, such as watching TV or surfing the net.
#5 When scheduling your tasks group similar tasks together.   For example make all of your phone calls in one block of time, computer data entry in another block of time, run errands in another block, and so on.  Not sure how long a task will take? The next time you do a routine task, time it.

#6  End each day by identifying your most critical task to work on first the next day.

#7 This is key to time management. Time is your most precious resource. Are you spending your time on your goals or are you just going through life busying yourself?  My next blog post will discuss how to set SMART goals.

Which habits are you going to practice to get more time for YOU?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Perfectly Organized Kitchen for the Holidays... and Beyond

If your kitchen isn't functioning at high efficiency it is a recipe for a holiday dinner disaster!  Organize it now to insure stress free holiday meal preparations.  Here are few quick tips to get started:
  • Purge your pantry - look at expiration dates and remove all expired food, including spices. For more ideas on how to organize a pantry view my video at
  • Group all of your baking supplies and materials together and create a baking zone in the kitchen. This will make holiday baking a snap!
  • Be realistic about how many coffee mugs, travel cups/mugs, plastic drinking bottles, and plastic containers are needed. Nix the surplus and gain space for what you need to easily access.
  • Relocate infrequently used appliances, kitchen equipment and entertaining items to a storage room or garage to free up prime real estate in the kitchen for what is used regularly.
  • Let go of any cookbook, gadget, dishware or ingredient that has not been used in the past six months
  • Toss the recipes that haven’t been used in a year and put favorites in sheet protectors in a binder. 
Still feeling overwhelmed? Call me and I'll pull together the perfect organizing package to effortlessly get your kitchen functioning at high efficiency.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Let's talk organizing


Where:  Oregon Convention Center Portland Home & Living Show Booth #249, Exhibit Hall D
When: Saturday, November 9th, 10 am-12 pm

Here's your free ticket

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Are You Afraid to Open the Door?

The holidays are fast approaching.

Are you afraid to open your door?
Is your home ready for entertaining?
Can you find your holiday decorations?
What about the roasting pan?
Do you have a plan for gift giving?
Will you be able to balance work, family, life + the holidays?

If you answered no, to any of the above questions, I have SolutionsForYou. I also have a holiday offer...

Call today to find out what it is and before my time runs out!

Happy Holidays,
Anne Blumer, CPO
SolutionsForYou, Inc.

503-246-0710 or 503-706-3502

Monday, October 7, 2013

5 minute tasks to keep your home uncluttered and organized

After working with a client I'm usually hear the question, "How do I stay organized?"  I provide my clients a written maintenance plan at the conclusion of each project. The plan is simple and comprises short 5-15 minute tasks to be completed at specific frequencies.   The intent is to develop new habits that will eventually [with practice] become routine.  

Here are 50 quick tasks for you to keep your home uncluttered and organized:
  1. Make a plan for today
  2. Sort daily mail into three categories – action, recycle, file
  3. File
  4. Weed a file or two
  5. Purge magazines/catalogs
  6. Set-up online bill pay with your bank
  7. Go online and pay your bills
  8. Start a load of laundry
  9. Put a load of laundry in the dryer
  10. Fold a load of laundry
  11. Put away a load of laundry
  12. Load the dishwasher
  13. Unload the dishwasher
  14. Purge your kitchen utensil drawer – donate duplicates and unused utensils
  15. Purge your plastic containers – keep only what you will store leftovers for a week
  16. Purge your travel mugs – keep two for each person
  17. Purge your water bottles – keep two for each person
  18. Purge your grocery bags paper and plastic
  19. Weed expired coupons
  20. Purge the refrigerator of leftovers ‘gone too long’
  21. Purge the refrigerator crisper drawers
  22. Plan 3 dinners for this week
  23. Check pantry for what is out of stock and start a grocery list
  24. Purge expired spices add to grocery list if you want to replace
  25. Place  mesh laundry bag in each person’s room to collect dirty socks – eliminates missingsockitus, keeps socks contained by person, and makes it easier to match up and return to the right drawer
  26. Place a bin in each room to collect nomadic items
  27. Pick up a bin and return nomadic items to their rightful place
  28. Place a bin in each closet. When you try on an item of clothing and decide it’s no longer for you, place it in the bin for donation or consignment. When the bin is full, take to your donation center or consignment store.
  29. Create January-December email folders
  30. Create an ACTION email folder
  31. Weed your email; any email that does not require action place in the month received email folder. Any email requiring action, move to your action folder. Voila, empty email inbox.
  32. Schedule your email ACTIONS in your calendar – decide when you will complete the task
  33. Take action on one of your emails in your ACTION email folder
  34. Check and update your calendar
  35. Got envelopes or torn off return address labels piling up? Enter addresses into your contacts database or address book
  36. Clean-up your computer desk-top – move documents/folders into your root directory and off of your desktop
  37. Collect all your post-it notes and either toss or add to your action list
  38. Purge the medicine cabinet
  39. Weed bath linens – donate any you haven’t used in the past year
  40. Weed bed linens – donate any you haven’t used in the past year
  41. Weed coats – donate any you haven’t worn in the past year
  42. Weed shoes – donate any you haven’t worn in the past year and any others you don’t like
  43. Weed your books – donate any you won’t read or refer to again
  44. Weed your office supplies – donate any you won’t use to your neighborhood school
  45. Weed your craft materials – donate any you won’t use to your neighborhood school
  46. Walk through your home with a trash bag and see how much you can fill in 5 to 15 minutes – toss it in the trash bin
  47. Walk through your home with a recycling bag and see how much you fill in 5 to 15 minutes – toss it in the recycling bin
  48. Purge your purse, backpack, and/or wallet
  49. Clean-out your car
  50. Make a plan for tomorrow
Pick one, and then another... watch the magic happen.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Are You Right-Brained or Left-Brained?

Right-Brain Logic
The right-brain person is highly creative and has a holistic view of their office space.  They benefit from a work space that keeps paper in the open and visually accessible.  Materials that work well to capture paper in the right-brain office are:
  •  literature sorters for organized action piles
  •  project file boxes
  •  open rolling file carts   
  • colorful file folders   
  • colorful magazine holders
  • different colored pens for labeling

Left-Brain Logic
While the right-brain dominant person works better with everything out in the open, the left-brain dominant person compartmentalizes their office space and does better in a well ordered workspace with everything out of sight except for the one task they are working on. Materials that work well to capture paper in the right-brain office are:
  • divided compartmentalized desk drawer trays
  • desk-top file box (with lid) for action papers
  •  file cabinets with closing drawers
  •  hanging files for reference papers
  •  label maker

Not sure what you are? Take the right-brain/left-brain quiz shown to the right of this blog post.

Saturday, March 9, 2013


My mother, Priscilla, is 86 years old and her husband, Don, is 90. Until recently, they lived in a mobile home park for 18 years. Don has dementia and it has been progressing to a point that in recent years Priscilla has taken care of everything; the housework, their finances, meal planning and preparation, arranging for home repairs/maintenance, yard work, all the driving... everything! Priscilla also has neuropathy in her feet (due to a foot surgery gone wrong) causing difficulty to walk and has experienced a few too many falls lately. My siblings and I said, enough! It's time for Priscilla and Don to move to a community where they have freedom from all of the day-to-day chores and upkeep, plus on-site care.

We found a wonderful community--it's like living on a cruise ship. The apartments are very small (600 square feet), but right outside their door are all the amenities of a cruise ship: saline pool, exercise room and trainers, massage therapists, gift shop, library, movie theater, demonstration room, bar, restaurants, hair salon, chapel and a concierge to arrange everything for you. Heck, I want to move there! At 86 Priscilla, amazingly, does yoga three times a week and she loves to swim--so this is going to be heaven for her.
This is one of the moments in your life that you know is coming, but you can easily get overwhelmed by the thought of doing--DOWNSIZING and MOVING. Because, before THE MOVE there is the ENORMOUS task of going through all of the STUFF, STUFF, and more STUFF. Priscilla and Don were wildflower and scenic photographers. You can't even imagine the thousands of slides they accumulated over the decades. As we started, my siblings and I (all very opinionated) were disagreeing on how to move "mom" and sell the house.  I said to my siblings, "To keep the family peace we are going to divide and conquer!" My role - THE MOVE, my brother - GARAGE/ESTATE SALE, and my sister - SELL THE HOUSE.  
With any project that seems overwhelming it is helpful to break it down into tasks with deadlines. It can help you gain control and feel a sense of calm. I pulled together our project plan and gave Priscilla her tasks that she could complete on her own. Such as, change of address notices, cancelling utilities not needed before house sale, mail forwarding, changing home insurance, collect important papers/valuables, etc. For complete lists I use ListPlanIt.
Priscilla and I went through their entire house and put "dot" stickers on everything they wanted to take with them. This made it very easy when I worked with the movers to pack. If it had a dot it got packed, if not it was left behind.  It took quite some convincing for my mother to not pack up her entire kitchen.  I had to remind her one of the reasons for the move was so she wouldn't need to meal plan and cook as much--if at all. The one area she would not downsize--her spices, not even her pumpkin pie spice. We contacted Lile Moving and Storage to pack and move their belongings.
Priscilla wanted some new furniture and we needed to maximize their small space. We designed a floor plan to determine where and how the existing and new furniture would fit. 
Then, we went to Ikea. I thought Priscilla would faint at the enormity of it. Even though we were armed with a plan of what specific items we wanted, we were there three hours. I was exhausted, but not Priscilla! From there we went to several stores in search of wall-mounted switch lights--not an easy find these days. We found two at Lowes.  

I drove Priscilla home and continued on to the Container Store to purchase elfa drawer systems and other organizing goodies for their downsized space.
The weekend of THE MOVE Priscilla and Don stayed at my sister's home while my husband and I worked with the movers, assembled furniture, installed lamps, shelves, and pullout drawers, got all of their electronics working, and organized their downsized stuff in their new home. You can view THE MOVE activity and before/after photos here.
If you, or someone you know is ready for downsizing consider working with professionals, such as myself and Lile Moving and Storage. It will be less overwhelming, less emotional, and less stressful. It will also save time and money. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Who knew a pair of shoes could be so educational

As I was pondering what I wanted to gift my family and friends this past holiday season, I was looking for gifts that would also give to others in need. I love to support organizations that provide to children or focus on eliminating hunger. One day while watching a Rachel Ray show, I learned about the Feed Foundation.  

I researched the Feed Foundation and embracing their mission decided to gift through them.  I also noticed something on their web site I would like to receive, a pair of TOMSshoes. Not only are they cute, but they give twice; a pair of shoes and feed children 12 school meals.  I hinted to my husband that I wanted the shoes and he happily ordered them for me.  

Along, with the shoes came another gift, a book titled Start Somethingthat Matters by Blake Mycoskie, founder of TOMS.

A few weeks after the holiday hubbub, I curled up with Blake’s book. It is a page turner, educational, and so inspiring.  In a nutshell, Blake tells his story and lessons learned about starting TOMS and the entrepreneurs and organizations he has met along the way. I wish I had read this book when I started my business, SolutionsForYou, ten years ago!

This book is for everyone because of its inspiring stories. But, if you have every thought about starting a business or making a difference in the world, and fear has stopped you, definitely read this book! . The key nugget I gleaned from Blake’s book is, tell your story.

If you are curious, you can listen to mystory about how I got into the amazing work as a Certified Professional Organizer as interviewed by Susan Creal.

What’s your story? I’d love to hear it.

A bit about me...

I love to organize anything! I love to read anything on the subject of organizing. I especially love helping others learn the joy and simplification organizing habits and behaviors can bring to their lives.

Click here to learn a bit about me and visit our websites (organizing services), (training and education for professional organizers) and my book web site

Anne Blumer

Anne Blumer
Certified Professional Organizer, Certified GO System Trainer and Consultant, and Certified FreedomFiler Consultant

Client Before and After Pictures

Certified Professional Organizer

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